Details Emerge in Christopher Kelly's Death

(Note: Continuous updates below)

The death of Christopher Kelly, a top fundraiser, close friend and a co-defendant of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, is looking more like a suicide.

A source familiar with the investigation told the Chicago Sun-Times that Kelly, who was married, called a woman late Friday identified as his "girlfriend" and told her that he took some pills and was going to kill himself.

The woman picked up Kelly at a lumberyard near 173rd St. and Cicero in Country Club Hills, where Kelly reportedly had vomited. Police were taking samples of the vomit and searching for evidence at the lumberyard, the source said. State Police evidence technicians were also called in to search the area near the lumberyard.


The girlfriend then drove Kelly to Oak Forest Hospital, dropped him off and called police to report that she did so, the source said.

Saturday night, police were still unable to find "Kelly's girl," Country Club Hills Mayor Dwight Welch said.

The article also says that Kelly's car, a Cadillac Escalade SUV, was recovered at the hospital. So did the woman drive Kelly to the hospital in his car? What did she do with her car?

A black Cadillac Escalade believed to belong to Kelly was left at Oak Forest Hospital, a source said. Chicago Police detectives were stationed near the SUV Saturday, and Country Club Hills confiscated the vehicle Saturday night.

Yesterday, I outlined the details of his legal cases. One of the odd things I noted was that the Judge, at the end of the guilty plea hearing on September 8, modified his bond at the request of the Government. (Kelly agreed to the modification.)

Instead of being allowed to stay out until sentencing in the case, the Judge ordered him to surrender to the U.S. Marshals on Sept. 18, and included the condition that between Sept. 8 and Sept. 18, he was not go within 1,000 feet of a certain address and have no contact with three individuals, whose identities were not mentioned in court but were known to Kelly, through a letter from the Government. The order is here. The address appears to be a nightclub.

He was not going to start serving his 37 month sentence, he was going to be held in federal detention while the probation department prepared a pre-sentence report. His sentencing date was set for Nov. 18. (Months ago, he was ordered to surrender in the 37 month case on November 2, 2009.)

So, in addition to the pressure to plead guilty and cooperate in the Blagojevich case, which is still in the early stages of litigation, Kelly was facing being locked up starting next week, which would greatly hamper his ability to meet with his lawyers and prepare for the Blagojevich trial. If the other judge did not delay the Nov. 2 surrender date on the 37 month sentence, he would be in a federal prison out of state starting in November, which would make it even more difficult to effectively consult with his lawyers.

Kelly really was between a rock and a hard place. Not only was he facing consecutive 37 and 57 month sentences in his first two cases, he was facing more time in the Blagojevich case, and separation from his lawyers while that case was being prepared for trial.

Given that his overdose was from some over-the counter substance, it sounds like Kelly made a spur of the moment decision to kill himself and then called s friend for help. And despite her efforts, he was too far gone to survive.

Kelly got himself in a heap of legal trouble for his tax violations stemming from his gambling losses, for his bid-rigging in the airline cases and his association with Blagojevich. How badly does the Government want Blagojevich, that they couldn't just let Kelly go do his 8 years on the first two cases and be done? I wonder what they were offering him if he did cooperate? If it was a concurrent sentence to the 8 years, then they agreed society didn't need to be protected by keeping him in jail longer.

So, because he didn't want to cooperate against Blagojevich, either out of loyalty or because he had no incriminating information to provide, the feds held the hammer of a likely double-digit sentence over his head, and he collapsed under the weight. Really sad. And another example of how federal prosecutors have too much power in determining sentences through cooperation agreements.

An autopsy will be performed on Kelly today.

Update: The woman has been identified and through her lawyer, has declined to speak further to police.

While at the hospital, and sitting up, Kelly talked with a police officer and indicated that he had attempted suicide. Officials are trying to identify a man who came to the hospital and tried to take the SUV but was stopped.

And in answer to my earlier question about the cars, his friend found him in his car, pushed him to the passenger side and drove him to the hospital.

Update: Kelly reportedly told police he overdosed on a prescription drug and more than one drug was found in his car. As I noted yesterday, the Judge who sentenced Kelly to 37 months included a recommendation that he participate in RDAP(BOP's residential drug program that allows those with drug or alcohol problems to earn up to a year off their sentence.)

Update: There was pain medication in the car, the autopsy was inconclusive, and police are wondering why Kelly's girlfriend's car wasn't at the lumberyard. They think a third person was involved, who tried to recoup the Escalade at the hospital but wasn't allowed to. Police are looking for him.

[Country Club Hills mayor Dwight Welch s] said that some of the drugs were prescription pain medication and that Kelly told police at the hospital that he had undergone surgery to his "genitalia area." He said investigators are awaiting medical records from Kelly's doctors, for which they may need to issue warrants. Welch said police will also need to talk to his family about his medical background.
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    Thanks for the follow-up. (none / 0) (#1)
    by Elizabeth Blackwell on Sun Sep 13, 2009 at 09:01:47 PM EST
    And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.

                                                            Genesis 4:13

    Agree it is very sad.  So much suffering for all involved.